Mountain Biker, Surfer,
Multi discipline and accessibility:
If you have read the previous entries in our Blog you will know that I am interested in multiple activities and it is my guess that I am not alone. There is definitely a personality type of people who like taking part in action and adventure sport. At its most extreme there is definitely the “Adrenaline Junkie.” Experienced participants who will go out to sea in heavy swell, large waves, very windy conditions that most people would find terrifying. In terms of land based action sports there are severe biking trails of near vertical descent with big kickers that are difficult to land. There are extreme graded climbing, bouldering, or scramble routes that are most definitely the province of the extreme athlete.
These people are the extreme sports personalities that most outdoor brands use to advertise the appeal and excitement of the action sport lifestyle. For most people however there is a level of entry that is relevant to the physical and technical competency and comfort zone. As a concept we believe that a large proportion of people are willing if not aspire to try these exciting sports in the ever safe and mundane world of work, mortgages and reality TV, and once tried will be hooked for life. The issue for most people is about accessibility (Where can I go, who can I do it with) and a catalyst of some sort to “give it a go.”
For the initiated and active participant would a multi-disciplined application provide functionality and value beyond a simple location guide. It is the knowledge in existing difficult to find forums, closed Facebook Groups or just in the in the head of the local pro that I want to try and access and share. Surely there would be value for all types of participant from beginner to experienced professional. No one is an expert in all locations. To a greater extent time will tell if we have got that right but we at least can test these core principles with an early prototype.
This is an important concept because it is my intention to make the app multi-disciplined to encourage people to access activities that they other-wise wouldn’t consider. It’s important because I wanted to create an application that appealed to more than just a specific single group without putting people off. How purest about their leisure activity are people going to be. We will see…
So there was some work to do. I had spoken to my friends and fellow action sport hedonists within my personal sphere of activity and had been met with a positive response. I now needed to talk to more people at all levels of participation and most importantly the professionals. People who earn a living from doing these things.
In the back of my mind I was all too aware that in order for this utility to exist it would need to make money. Rather foolishly, as it turns out, I had put that thought to the bottom of my priority list. To quote Wayne’s World 2 I had labored under the “Build it and they will come” approach. I had thought that if I can build a platform that has lots of people using it on a regular basis, the revenue will flow, probably through advertising or something like that. Nice idea, but as it turns out somewhat naive. We will come back to this point later.
So back to the Pro’s. Who did I know, who did the Buccaneer Collective know that we could talk to, to research and test the concept. I’d had some windsurfing and Kitesurfing lessons when initially brain storming the idea so I thought I’d start there. I was lucky enough to have met Nik Baker through having some lessons with his Brother Ant.
I had been somewhat in awe of Brothers Baker since as a late teenager reading tales of their exploits in Boards Magazine on the World Windsurfing circuit in the 90’s. Nik is a legend in the Watersports world being the only brit to have won the Aloha classic in Hawaii. Nik now runs a successful distribution business in the UK, working with brands like Ion, Fanatic, North. He also runs a shop and school on the south coast of the UK. I definitely wanted an honest opinion on the idea from Nik
We also attended the Virgin Kite Armada, we wanted to make connections with other pro’s and distributors that would be attending and it was a good opportunity to socialize the idea.
We had a load of Hoodies printed with the buccaneer logo and set about talking to people….
The outcome of the exercise was clearly positive or I guess we wouldn’t be here about to launch the full version of the App. I was however surprised by the response and collective similarity in the response.
The pro’s were the main objective to talk to as without their support for the concept, the take-up would likely be slower. I was also genuinely interested to see if people got the idea as much I did.
I am happy to report people got it! Nik liked the idea and was keen to make further introductions. Yes it would be cool to see a directory of locations with useful guide information regarding the specific physicality and amenities relating to the spot in question. But the most interesting feature was the Sessions. Something I thought would long-term be the core purpose of the app but would be of limited use until there was a large number of users utlising the functionality. People liked the concept of the Sessions platform; a method for inviting people to an activity at a place on specific date/time and then a corresponding message platform all based around the Session. The ability to see the weather/sea conditions by uploading pics to the Session notice board. What others were using in terms of kit at a location on a given day seemed key but the surprise highlight was something I hadn’t even considered, a safety feature. An awareness of who was participating in a Session and where. The sea can be unpredictable at best and add in strong winds and constantly changing conditions, dangerous tidal rips and it can be an accident waiting to happen. The immediate step most pros made in their minds was to understand the app gave them a really simple method where they could track who had checked into a Session and then completed it safely and was on the beach alive and well.
I was pleased to find that most regular water sports users are a conscientious lot and genuinely care about their fellow’s welfare.
Some of the other wins related to location usage. People go to the beach for a variety of reasons not all of them go to Surf, Kite and paddle, so go to walk some go to swim other just to hang out and sunbath. Again the usage had a conscientious theme. Pro’s and regular participants were concerned with the guidelines for using a location. Launch zones, safe swimming areas etc etc. all of which can clearly be captured in the location guide.
In short we came away from the event even more enthusiastic and that we really did have a concept that would work!!
Now to finish building the prototype.